Jihadists and Terrorists in South America – The Next Front
Gateway Pundit (h/t LGF) has a good piece on Hezbollah operating in South America:
The Hezbollah group invading Venezuela is doing its work openly in the Venezuelan side of the Guajira Peninsula. They are disseminating, via Internet, a strategy “to change Venezuela,”
The whole post is good, and lays out Hezbollah’s intent in the region (death, destruction, conversion – you can guess that part).
When I read this, I recalled that in 2002, there was concern and some evidence that Al Quaeda was operating in the tri-border region in South America. After the bump is a collection of links that point to a threatening Jihadi presence in South America, including Colombia, Brazil, and the Tri-Border Region. This evidence should play a part in our current immigration debate as well as in our evolving relations with these countries. And I’d be very interested to hear an administration official respond to how these puppet actors are influencing our efforts at winning, not managing, the Global War on Terror in the Middle East.
From an Al-CNN article:
CNN has learned from coalition intelligence sources that several top terrorist operatives met recently in the area — where the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay intersect — to plan attacks against U.S. and Israeli targets in the Western hemisphere.
Sources said the meetings, which took place in and around Ciudad del Este, were attended by representatives of Hezbollah and other groups sympathetic to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist network.
The evidence pointed to a single Hezbollah figure:
Other indications of the threat came from intelligence sources in the Middle East, who told CNN of a new terrorist effort aimed at U.S. and Israeli interests and coordinated by a man named Imad Mugniyeh.
The sources say Mugniyeh — working from his bases in Iran and Hezbollah-controlled areas of Lebanon — is directing the activities of terrorists in South America, planning to hit U.S. and Israeli targets if the United States attacks Iraq, or if Israel is drawn into the conflict.
Mugniyeh is suspected of being the mastermind in a long list of attacks against U.S. and Israeli targets over the past 20 years — including the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, and the 1992 car bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina…. Argentine authorities have connected Mugniyeh to such groups as Hezbollah, Gamaa al Islamiya, and Islamic Jihad, all of which have been identified by the U.S. State Department as terrorist organizations.
And all of which are supposed to be unrelated. Right.
Argentine officials point to more evidence they say indicates terrorist activity in the tri-border area — thousands of U.S. dollars bearing stamps from Lebanese currency exchange banks, tens of thousands of dollars in phony bills, and receipts from wire transfers made between the tri-border area and the Middle East.
Hezbollah is well positioned to cause damage to Western interests from its now well-established base in the region. Given that Hezbollah is a puppet actor of Iran, I am wondering what type of distractions / operations / misdirection could be launched by Mugniyeh in support of Iran’s efforts in the Middle East.
By the same token, it would be nice if people didn’t assume that artificial barriers that exist in some dossier would trump expediency. What (really … what?) is to keep him from spreading money around to groups that further his cause. If Mugniyeh thinks it will serve his cause against the West, I bet he’d even enlist aid with Communist Guerilla groups in the region, like FARC or ELN. Oh wait … maybe he already has. As recently as January 2006 …
Colombian authorities claim to have dismantled an extensive counterfeit passport ring … that allegedly supplied an unknown number of Pakistanis, Egyptians, Jordanians, Iraqis, and others purported to be working with al-Qaeda with Colombian, Portuguese, German, and Spanish citizenship, enabling them to travel freely in the United States and Europe. Bogota also mentioned that the network had ties to Hamas militants (al-Hayat, January 28; Caracol Radio, January 26).
To make you feel better, the US Authorities were shocked and surprised:
… U.S. Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security officials expressed surprise at Bogota’s announcement while emphatically disputing its claim, alleging that they had no knowledge of known links between the document forgery operation and any brand of Islamist terrorism, let alone al-Qaeda. Instead, they acknowledged that the sting operation involved Colombians posing as members of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the country’s largest and most powerful rebel group, interested in purchasing forged documents and possibly even weapons … Since one of the alleged members of the smuggling ring, Jalal Saadat Moheisen, happened to be of Palestinian descent, it is likely that Colombia seized the opportunity to win political points in Washington by pointing to a possible link to Middle East terrorist networks.
Regardless of Colombian connections (which would be troubling given the money and attention that Colombia has received since Bush became president), there is extensive evidence of Islamic Fascism flourishing in the region.
From an AP article recorded at Petrified Truth:
In South America, U.S. officials have long suspected Paraguay’s border with Brazil and Argentina as an area for Islamic terrorist fund-raising. Much of the focus has fallen on the Muslim community that sprouted during the 1970s, and authorities believe as much as $100 million a year flows out of the region, with large portions diverted to Islamic militants linked to Hezbollah and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
In 2002, Bill Gertz linked Jihadi elements in Brazil and Paraguay to Egypt’s Al Quaeda arm:
One of the men under suspicion in Brazil is Egyptian national Mohammed Ali Soliman, who was arrested in April. The Egyptian government believes Mr. Soliman is an al Qaeda member and has asked for his extradition to Egypt.
A second terror suspect is El Said Hassan Ali Mohammed Mokhles, who was arrested in Paraguay.
U.S. intelligence officials said both men are linked to Egyptian members of al Qaeda and were involved in the 1997 terrorist attack on tourists in Luxor, Egypt.
The men are also suspected of having links to terrorist attacks in Argentina against the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994.
U.S. intelligence agencies have identified at least 22 Islamic terrorists who are believed to be operating in the so-called tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
FrontPage did a large expose in March of 2004:
the [tri-border] area is home to roughly 20,000 Middle Eastern immigrants—mostly from Lebanon and Syria—and has long been a hotbed for terrorist fundraising, arms and drug trafficking, counterfeiting and money laundering. By moving freely through the region’s porous borders, operatives from the terrorist organizations Hizbollah, Hamas, and according to some reports, al-Qaeda, are able to conduct arms-for-drugs deals with secular Latin American terrorist groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Peru’s Sendero Luminosos (Shining Path). All told, U.S. officials believe that between $10 and $12 billion is funneled through the tri-border region each year, with Hizbollah among the prime beneficiaries.
The article mentions Mugniyeh as well as the Middle Eastern Puppet Master in charge of Islamo-Fascim’s South American theater. It will come as no surprise that the administration would again, as regarding Atta in Czechoslovakia, disregard “boots on the ground” evidence because it does not fit their world view:
While the State Department has denied on numerous occasions that Al-Qaeda maintains a presence in the area, the Department’s counter-terrorism coordinator, J. Cofer Black, acknowledged in January that during the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan, literature on the tri-border region had been found in caves used by Al-Qaeda fighters. The CIA believes that Al-Qaeda does indeed operate in the region, “mostly by laundering money and conducting arms-for-drugs deals with Latin American terrorist organizations,” according to author Rachel Ehrenfeld’s 2003 book, “Funding Evil.” And both Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—Al-Qaeda’s former third in command and the suspected mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks—are said to have spent time in the region during the 1990s. The likely presence of Al-Qaeda only strengthens U.S. Undersecretary for Border & Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson’s assertion that the area is “a haven for Islamic extremists.”
[Added] The WaPo has this from August 3, 2006:
U.S. officials cite a smuggling case in March in which 19 people were charged in Detroit for allegedly operating an international ring that illegally moved cigarettes through Paraguay and Brazil. The indictment alleged that profits were funneled to Hezbollah.
Additionally, in 2004 U.S. officials designated a businessman operating in Ciudad del Este a terrorist, saying he was a Hezbollah treasurer. The man, Assad Ahmad Barakat, operated a successful import-export business as a front for Hezbollah cells, the Treasury Department alleged.
Despite those charges, local prosecutors said that compiling evidence for such cases continues to be exceedingly difficult because they can’t get close to the large Arab immigrant community that resides in the tri-border area, a group that numbers about 30,000 and that U.S. officials believe includes a minority of merchants who are financing groups involved with terrorism.
I am left with two unassailable conclusions. #1 – The terrorist problem extends to South America, either as a financial organization or as a militant one. Either is threatening to the Western Hemisphere as the foundation for Western Civilization. #2 – Elements of the administration and the US government are dismissive of what I contend are troubling concurrent events, the crossing of terrorists’ paths, and a fertile political and geographical environment that is allowing this terrorism to take hold. If South America is not the front lines in the terror war, it is instead the rear area that our enemies seek to infiltrate and from which they seek to undermine our war efforts. This should be dealt with. In the words of Ledeen – Faster please.Additional links and snippets:
According to CBS correspondent Trish Regan, “many of them are reaping huge profits in a variety of illegal activities.” Paraguay’s money-laundering laws are seldom enforced and there’s no tracking of that money. There’s also the mass counterfeiting of drugs and weapons. It’s become a safe haven for terrorist groups like al Qaeda and Hezzbollah because it almost guarantees anonymity.
WorldNetDaily from 2002:
Both Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida and the Palestinian terrorist group Hezbollah are active in Latin America, with Hezbollah having “broader penetration in the Western Hemisphere than any other terrorist organization,” stated the U.S. State Department’s acting coordinator for counterterrorism, Mark F. Wong, in testimony before the U.S. House International Relations Committee.
Hezbollah “is a multi-faceted, multinational” organization that “has a presence in virtually every country in North and South America. …” Wong reported.
CDI’s Terrorist Group Page
A fascinating blog entry from an American ExPat who claims that there is an illegal immigrant railroad for Middle Easterners to get into America:
In support of militant Islam and groups such as Al Qaeda, these agents and money changers have now in recent years expanded their operations into Central and South America where they work together to their counterparts in Mexico who will assist in getting the workers across the border and into the United States. Once across the border and into the United States the workers will be met by yet another group who will then take charge of the workers and deliver them to their respective jobs.
By the time the Afghan or Pakistani finds himself in America, he will have been “advanced” and charged anywhere from US30,000-US50,000 for their transport, food, and sundry expenses. He and the others with him will be provided with housing and a job with the expenses for housing and his “advance” being deducted from his paycheck each month. Any remainder can be remitted (for a fee) through the agents and sent back to his family overseas.
Update: Clint Taylor at Hot Air has a roundup of Chavez’s links with Hezbollah.